Early Mormons did not Know About the First Vision
Subject: NO EVIDENCE that early Church members knew about the First Vision
Date: Jan 27 14:52 2004
Author: Deconstructor

This is a reply to TBM Eavesdropper's post in which he merely cites a FAIR article and then claims the First Vision story "was known by members of the church from the beginning."

My response:

The FAIR article only goes after three quotes used by the Tanners, all of which are quotes that church leaders made well after the death of Joseph Smith.

The fact is, the "official" version of the First Vision story was originally published in 1842 in "The Times and Seasons." Of course some members of the church read that story in the Times and Seasons and so after 1842 the First Vision was public knowledge.

The case against the First Vision does not live or die on those quotes that FAIR uses. In fact, FAIR is completely ignoring the much larger body of evidence that prior to the story's publication in 1842, the membership of the Church and other church leaders did not know about the First Vision.

Again, here's what church historians have said:

"As far as Mormon literature is concerned, there was apparently no reference to Joseph Smith's first vision in any published material in the 1830's. Joseph Smith's history, which was begun in 1838, was not published until it ran serially in the Times and Seasons in 1842. The famous "Wentworth Letter," which contained a much less detailed account of the vision, appeared March 1, 1842, in the same periodical. Introductory material to the Book of Mormon, as well as publicity about it, told of Joseph Smith's obtaining the gold plates and of angelic visitations, but nothing was printed that remotely suggested earlier visitations."

"In 1833 the Church published the Book of Commandments, forerunner to the present Doctrine and Covenants, and again no reference was made to Joseph's first vision, although several references were made to the Book of Mormon and the circumstances of its origin."

"The first regular periodical to be published by the Church was The Evening and Morning Star, but its pages reveal no effort to tell the story of the first vision to its readers. Nor do the pages of the Latter-day Saints Messenger and Advocate, printed in Kirtland, Ohio, from October, 1834, to September, 1836. In this newspaper Oliver Cowdery, who was second only to Joseph Smith in the early organization of the Church, published a series of letters dealing with the origin of the Church. These letters were written with the approval of Joseph Smith, but they contained no mention of any vision prior to those connected with the Book of Mormon."

"In 1835 the Doctrine and Covenants was printed at Kirtland, Ohio, and its preface declared that it contained "the leading items of religion which we have professed to believe." Included in the book were the "Lectures on Faith," a series of seven lectures which had been prepared for the School of the Prophets in Kirtland in 1834-35. It is interesting to note that, in demonstrating the doctrine that the Godhead consists of two separate personages, no mention was made of Joseph Smith having seen them, nor was any reference made to the first vision in any part of the publication."

"The first important missionary pamphlet of the Church was the Voice of Warning, published in 1837 by Parley P. Pratt. The book contains long sections on items important to missionaries of the 1830's, such as fulfillment of prophecy, the Book of Mormon, external evidence of the book's authenticity, the resurrection, and the nature of revelation, but nothing, again, on the first vision."

"The Times and Seasons began publication in 1839, but, as indicated above, the story of the vision was not told in its pages until 1842. From all this it would appear that the general church membership did not receive information about the first vision until the 1840's and that the story certainly did not hold the prominent place in Mormon thought that it does today."
- Dialogue, Vol.1, No.3, p.31 - p.32

FAIR cannot refute this information. The fact is, the record is void of any evidence that the general membership knew about the First Vision until the 1840's.

Now, did Brigham Young ever say God and Jesus Christ appeared to Jospeh Smith? To my knowledge, NEVER. FAIR nor anyone else has ever produced a single reference to Brigham Young ever preaching or telling the God-and-Jesus First Vision story.

- FAIR has not made any case that the general membership of the church prior to 1842 knew anything about Joseph Smith's God-and-Jesus First Vision story.

- FAIR has failed to produce any quotes by Brigham Young where he indicates knowledge of the God-and-Jesus First Vision Story.

- If church members in the 1830's knew about the God-and-Jesus First Vision story, where are the references?

- If Brigham Young ever knew about and/or taught the God-and-Jesus First Vision story, where are the references?

Here's some other golden questions about the First Vision story:

http://www.i4m.com/think/lists/mormon_questions.htm

Subject: Well done as usual.
Date: Jan 27 15:05
Author: activejackmormon

BTW, what happened to eavesdropper. He posted with some bold statements which were easily and quickly ripped to shreds and he has no counterpoints.

Eavesdropper's MO is like some Creationist who runs into a biology class and shouts "Darwin was wrong" and then runs back out again.

Put up some kind of fight!

Subject: I'm still here
Date: Jan 27 17:31
Author: tbm eavesdropper

More info:

The Rochester Advertiser and Telegraph of Aug. 31, 1829 (as cited by Nibley, Collected Works, Vol. 11, p. 82) reported that in 1827, Joseph Smith "had been visited in a dream by the spirit of the Almighty" and given information about a golden Bible. Other similar examples cited by Nibley show that the Book of Mormon had the aura of the supernatural (including angelic visitations) even before its publication, rather than as an afterthought invented years later.

Other critical publications of the era referred to claims by Joseph and others of angelic visions, and of personal conversations with Christ or with God Almighty. These stories were circulated long before modern anti-Mormon writers say that Joseph first came up with the idea. One example comes from an 1829 anti-Mormon satire by Abner Cole, who wrote a series of articles called "The Book of Pukei" for a Palmyra newspaper. The satire poked fun at many aspects of the Book of Mormon, including the first vision. The satire is evidence that Joseph's first vision story was known and talked about in 1829 (Russell C. McGregor and Kerry A. Shirts, "Letters to an Anti-Mormon," FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 11, No. 1, 1999, p. 160).

It is true that we have little in writing from Joseph Smith before 1832, when he wrote his earliest account of the First Vision, and it is true that the main account we use of the 1820 First Vision was written in 1838. We must remember that the stories of heavenly visitations were both sacred, private, and controversial, so he had little incentive to publish them at the time. His first experience telling a minister about them in public led to immediate persecution, persecution which persisted throughout his life. However, we do have evidence that he had told others of this experience long before 1832, including ample evidence that his story of angelic and divine visitations were a major reason for the persecutions he faced before 1832. (See, for example, Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Circumstantial Confirmation of the First Vision through Reminiscences," Brigham Young University Studies, Vol. 9, Spring 1969, pp. 373-404uments about the chronology of the Joseph Smith History, please see McGregor and Shirts, pp. 154-171.)

Subject: Excellent point TBM Eavesdropper...(edited for typo)
Date: Jan 27 17:49
Author: Melanie

You said:
The Rochester Advertiser and Telegraph of Aug. 31, 1829 (as cited by Nibley, Collected Works, Vol. 11, p. 82) reported that in 1827, Joseph Smith "had been visited in a dream by the spirit of the Almighty" and given information about a golden Bible.

The Joseph Smith History says that he was visited by the Angel Moroni, but he saw the Almighty in person, not a dream. The "spirit of the Almighty" is also an interesting concept considering the church states that Joseph Smith claimed to have seen God in a physical body. Which goes back to what Deconstructor and others have said...there were many versions of the first vision floating around. Unfortunately, they weren't the version the church now claims to have sprung up from.

You are also absolutely correct in your statement that, "Other critical publications of the era referred to claims by Joseph and others of angelic visions, and of personal conversations with Christ or with God Almighty. These stories were circulated long before modern anti-Mormon writers say that Joseph first came up with the idea." The idea I assume you are referring to since it is the one that the anti-Mormon writers are referring to is that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, together, in physical bodies, in the sacred grove, on the date the church claims that it happened. Joseph's other versions of the first vision included elements such as those you listed but not what is currently accepted by the church.

In considering the sacredness of such experiences, one must also consider the claim by the church that he was prosecuted for talking about them, which he probably was. He just wasn't getting prosecuted for the exact story the church claims he was prosecuted for. Which brings us to everyone else's point....give us evidence of the first vision being known in that time period the way that it is currently known. Thanks!

http://www.irr.org/mit/First-Vision-Scans/first-vision-1832.html
This site has links to other versions of the first vision that were known before the currently accepted version.

Subject: Nice try. A little peer review ahead.
Date: Jan 27 18:01
Author: Sarony

take a look at what you wrote:
tbm eavesdropper wrote:
> The Rochester Advertiser and Telegraph of Aug. 31, 1829 (as cited by Nibley, Collected Works, Vol. 11, p. 82) reported that in 1827, Joseph Smith "had been visited in a dream by the spirit of the Almighty" and given information about a golden Bible.


" ... dream ... spirit of the Almighty ... golden Bible ...."
This appears to be a single event. But after understanding Nibley's methods of citation (I cannot trust him a far as I can throw him), I would have to look at the reference(s) myself.

Problems:

(1)A dream is a nocturnal transmission, not a vision "... on the morning of a beautiful, clear, spring day ...",
(2)The "spirit of the Almighty" is vague, but in harmony with Smith's earliest versions of a spirit (not even an angel), and
(3) "information about a golden Bible". Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought Nephi, or was it Moroni?, first gave him that information in a separate dream, or was it a vision?

Your evidence points to the earliest versions of a spirit showing Smith a treasure.

This melds seamlessly with Smith's previous occupation of a treasure digger. He learnt it from his dad. They slaughtered a black sheep and sprinkled its blood in a circle to prevent the treasure from slipping away. See Helaman 13:31.

Subject: About the slaughtered sheep ...
Date: Jan 27 18:18
Author: Sarony

When Nibley admits to embarrassing evidence, maybe I trust him a little farther than I can throw him; maybe as far as I could shoot him as a human cannonball.

Nibley admits to the slaughtered sheep in "The Myth Makers" pp. 107-111. (Bookcraft, 1961).

Subject: Can you cite the "ample evidence?"
Date: Jan 27 18:11
Author: Bardamu

I often hear this claim about many things in the Mormon church. This is why I believed that there was "proof" of Book of Mormon Historicity for so long -- everyone kept telling me there was "ample evidence." However, when I finally required to know the details of that evidence everyone fell silent.

So, can you quote the "ample evidence" that explicitly says Joseph Smith saw two personages in his vision and not a dream?

We know one of the versions JS wrote concerning the First Vision explained Jesus Christ visiting, but it doesn't say anything about God visiting with JC. So, please quote at least some of this "ample evidence" that details the first vision in its current form.

Subject: More problems with your apologetics....
Date: Jan 27 18:19
Author: Deconstructor

The Rochester Advertiser and Telegraph of Aug. 31, 1829 (as cited by Nibley, Collected Works, Vol. 11, p. 82) reported that in 1827, Joseph Smith "had been visited in a dream by the spirit of the Almighty" and given information about a golden Bible. Other similar examples cited by Nibley show that the Book of Mormon had the aura of the supernatural (including angelic visitations) even before its publication, rather than as an afterthought invented years later.

This is not evidence that early members of the church were aware of the God-Jesus First Vision story. The above paragraph mentions stories about "dreams" with a "spirit of the Almighty" that told Smith about the "golden Bible." These are in fact references to the angel Nephi/Moroni coming in a dream, not a physical apparition of God and Jesus while Smith was awake in a grove of trees.

Here's a slew of other references about these same angelic dream stories:
http://www.i4m.com/think/history/moroni_dream.htm

No one here is denying that Joseph Smith told stories about dreams of spirits that led him to the "golden treasure" or "golden Bible." There's ample evidence of Smith and Cowdery telling such dream stories. But where's the evidence that the church membership was aware of Smith's God-and-Jesus First Vision story prior to 1842?.

We must remember that the stories of heavenly visitations were both sacred, private, and controversial, so he had little incentive to publish them at the time. His first experience telling a minister about them in public led to immediate persecution, persecution which persisted throughout his life.

Yet the "official" 1842 First Vision story has Joseph Smith saying he could not deny his story and the persecution would not silence him.

Besides, is this an explanation of why the membership did not know about the First Vision until the story was first published in 1842? If so, then you're basically agreeing with the fact that the membersip didn't know about the story during the 1830s. You can't have it both ways.

However, we do have evidence that he had told others of this experience long before 1832, including ample evidence that his story of angelic and divine visitations were a major reason for the persecutions he faced before 1832. (See, for example, Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Circumstantial Confirmation of the First Vision through Reminiscences," Brigham Young University Studies, Vol. 9, Spring 1969, pp. 373-404uments about the chronology of the Joseph Smith History, please see McGregor and Shirts, pp. 154-171.)

That's referring to the story of Moroni appearing and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, not about the God-and-Jesus First Vision story Smith cooked up in the late 1830's.

Again, you're missing the mark:

- If church members in the 1830's knew about the God-and-Jesus First Vision story, where are the references?

- If Brigham Young ever knew about and/or taught the God-and-Jesus First Vision story, where are the references?


Also, as Makurosu pointed out in response to your original post, Joseph Smith taught in the School of the Prophets during the mid-1830's that God was a spirit without a physical body.

From the Lectures on Faith:

[Lec 5:2c] They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory, and power, possessing all perfection and fullness.

[Lec 5:2d] The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man - or rather, man was formed after his likeness and in his image.

http://www.centerplace.org/hs/dc/lec-005.htm

The Lectures on Faith were written in 1834 as part of Joseph Smith's curriculum for the School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio, and they were included in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine & Covenants.

So, why is Joseph Smith saying that God is a spirit, but Jesus Christ has a body? If Smith had seen the First Vision 12-15 years earlier, he would have said they both have bodies, right? The reason is because the final version of the First Vision story had not been written yet. It also corroborates the fact that the membership hadn't heard the story either.

Subject: Folks chatting up Joe being visited in a dream by the spirit of the Almighty
Date: Jan 27 18:32
Author: steve benson

hardly constitutes evidence that they knew much or heard about the First Vision.

Indeed, The Official First Vision Version, as approved for member consumption, regaled believers not with stories of spirits in dreams but, rather, with physical appearances by God Himself actually levitating above the boy wonder in a grove of trees.

Weak, tbm eavesdropper, real weak.

Subject: It's not even a reference to God anyway...
Date: Jan 27 18:40
Author: Deconstructor

TBM Eavesdropper's reference from Hugh Nibler is actually about the angel Moroni, not God the Father. In the early storytelling by Smith, Moroni came in a dream and told him about the golden treasure buried in the hill.

http://www.i4m.com/think/history/moroni_dream.htm

The other indication that this is a reference to Moroni is that the "spirit" in the dream gave Smith "information about the golden Bible."

In the much-later 1842 "official" First Vision story, God nor Jesus mention the "golden Bible" or Book of Mormon in any way. So Nibler's reference is clearly talking about Moroni.

Subject: Indeed, it was Moroni (otherwise originally known as Nephi)
Date: Jan 27 18:42
Author: steve benson

Curiouser and curiouser it gets, going down this silly wabbit goldplates hole.

Subject: Even worse - official First Vision Story says the Angel was NEPHI
Date: Jan 27 19:01
Author: Deconstructor

Just when you thought Joseph Smith was done cooking up his story, the original published 1842 First Vision story names Nephi as the angel that appeared to Smith in bed and told him about the plates.

From http://www.josephlied.com/Nephi.html

The Times and Seasons Vol. III pp. 749, 753 ("He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Nephi.").

[In modern printings of the History of the Church, this has been changed to read "Moroni". It is interesting to note that Joseph Smith lived for two years after the name "Nephi" was printed in Times and Seasons and he never published a retraction.]

In August, 1842, the Millennial Star, printed in England, also published Joseph Smith's story stating that the angel's name was "Nephi" (see Millennial Star, vol. 3, p.53). On page 71 of the same volume we read that the ...message of the angel Nephi ... opened a new dispensation to man...."

In 1853, Joseph's mother, Lucy Mack Smith, also said the angel's name was Nephi (Biographical Sketches, p. 79).

The name was also published in the 1851 edition of the Pearl of Great Price as "Nephi." ("He called me by name and said unto me, that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Nephi." (Pearl of Great Price, 1851 edition, page 41) The original handwritten manuscript of the PofGP dictated by Joseph Smith reveals that the name was originally written as "Nephi," but that someone at a later date has written the word "Moroni" above the line. All evidence indicates that this change was made after Joseph Smiths death.

Walter L. Whipple, in his thesis written at BYU, stated that Orson Pratt "published The Pearl of Great Price in 1878, and removed the name of Nephi from the text entirely and inserted the name Moroni in its place" ("Textual Changes in the Pearl of Great Price," typed copy, p.125).

Lastly, in 1888 J. C. Whitmer made this statement: "I have heard my grandmother (Mary M. Whitmer) say on several occasions that she was shown the plates of the Book of Mormon by an holy angel, whom she always called Brother Nephi". [It should be noted that a majority of the Book of Mormon is alleged to have been translated in the Whitmer home.)

So not only did early Mormons think the "First Vision" was an angel appearing to Smith in bed, but that this angel from the spirit of the Almighty was Nephi.

As Hinckley said:

"Our entire case as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rests on the validity of this glorious First Vision. ... Nothing on which we base our doctrine, nothing we teach, nothing we live by is of greater importance than this initial declaration. I submit that if Joseph Smith talked with God the Father and His Beloved Son, then all else of which he spoke is true. This is the hinge on which turns the gate that leads to the path of salvation and eternal life."
- Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign Mag., Nov. 1998, pp.70-71

"I knew a so-called intellectual who said the Church was trapped by its history. My response was that without that history we have nothing. The truth of that unique, singular, and remarkable event is the pivotal substance of our faith."
- Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith," October 2002 General Conference

The story doesn't sound very unique or singular, does it?

Subject: Evidence
Date: Jan 27 18:49
Author: Baura

The claim is made by those who are not enamored of Mormonism that "No evidence at all exists showing..." whatever.

Actually this is usually an overstatement. It's an overstatement because evidence, by itself, doesn't show things. It must be understood and, to some extent. interpreted. For example if I state that aliens landed in my back yard and left this rock from another planet then the rock is "evidence" of their landing. Not convincing evidence, of course, but "evidence" none the less.

Now as to Nibley's reference to The Rochester Advertiser and Telegraph of Aug. 31, 1829, we have (assuming that it is accurate) a statement in a newspaper that Joseph Smith wasn't associated with. Unless we have more information it is probable to assume that this is second or third-hand information being passed on.

When stories go around they often get changed and embellished somewhat. So we are in a position to interpret things. Was this a minor garbling of the "Nephi/Moroni-dream-visit" of 1823 or was it a major garbling of the First Vision? Let's compare:

The only thing to "garble" to get it to fit Joseph Smith's own version of Nephi/Moroni's dream visitation is to refer to "angel Nephi/Moroni" as the "spirit of the Almighty." This reminds me of an interesting episode in recent Mormon history--the so-called "Salamander Letter." Defenders of the church bent over backward to show how the term "Salamander" could easily refer to an angel (mercifully for them the Salamander letter turned out to be a Hofmann forgery). However I find it a much shorter stretch to get "spirit of the Almighty" to refer to an angel. So, that's all the "garbling" we need to do to assume that this story refers to the Nephi/Moroni-dream-visit.

To get it to refer to the First Vision (tm) story we have to have "dream" mean a wide-awake experience in the spring of 1820. We have to stretch "spirit of the Almighty" to "God the father and Jesus Christ." We have to stretch "given information about a golden Bible" to "told to join none of the churches."

Interestingly to make it fit the first vision we have to remove evidences that tie it to the Nephi/Moroni-dream-visit (dream --> awake, information about golden Bible --> Don't join any churches) which weren't in any way associated with the first vision. To make it fit the Nephi/Moroni-dream-visit we only have to interpret "spirit of the Almighty" as "angel." Now if "Salamander" can refer to an angelic visit surely "spirit of the Almighty" can refer by an angel sent with a message from the Almighty.

So we take the "evidence" and ask ourselves "which interpretation best fits the evidence?" This is the approach that an honest seeker of truth takes. A propagandist for whatever side will take a different approach. He/she will ignore mountains and trumpet molehills if it helps the position being promoted. This is what spin-doctors do for political candidates; this is what lawyers do for their clients. It's not what honest seekers of truth do.

So is there evidence for the First Vision? Yes, there is evidence that can be interpreted in favor of the First Vision story. However I submit that the evidence taken as a whole is very damning to the First Vision story.

You can show small holes in various arguments on either side. If your aim is to "win arguments" this tactic sometimes works, ask any lawyer. If your aim is to find the truth this tactic will help you avoid it.

Subject: Just Recycled Jeff Lindsay and Kerry Shirts
Date: Jan 27 19:06
Author: Dbradhud

The info that eavesdropper refers to is taken straight from Jeff and Kerry. http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_first_vision.shtml. If you read the source material from the newspapers, you will see that all of this alleged discussion about the "first vision" is actually about Joseph's alleged visions in connection with finding the Book of Mormon. None of them discuss any claim that Joseph saw God and Jesus Christ together in a vision. The Book of Pukei, alone, is worth a quick read. You can find a site that has compiled the newspaper accounts at http://www.lavazone2.com/dbroadhu/artindex.htm.

Subject: Eavesdropper's reference to "The Book of Pukei" is totally bogus
Date: Jan 27 19:44
Author: Deconstructor

Read the original "The Book of Pukei" satire for yourself:

http://www.lavazone2.com/dbroadhu/NY/wayn1830.htm#061230

(click on the link to "Refl June 12 '30")

In the July 7th 1829 Reflector is where the satire pokes fun at Joseph Smith's "first vision" story. Here's what it says:

2. And the prophet answered and said, -- "Behold! hath not the mantle of Walters the magician fallen upon me, and I am not able to do before you my people great wonders, and shew you, at a more proper season, where the Nephites hid their treasures? -- for lo! yesternight stood before me in the wilderness of Manchester, the spirit, who, from the begining, has had in keeping all the treasures, hidden in the bowels of the earth,

3. And he said unto me, Joseph, thou son of Joseph, hold up thine head; do the crimes done in thy body fill thee with shame? -- hold up thine face and let the light of mine countenance shine upon thee -- thou, and all thy father's household, have served me faithfully, according to the best of their knowledge and abilities -- I am the spirit that walketh in darkness, and will shew thee great signs and wonders."

4. And I looked, and behold a little old man stood before me, clad, as I supposed, in Egyptian raiment, except his Indian blanket, and moccasins -- his beard of silver white, hung far below his knees. On his head was an old fashioned military half cocked hat, such as was worn in the days of the patriarch Moses -- his speech was sweeter than molasses, and his words were the reformed Egyprian.

5. And he again said unto me, "Joseph, thou who hast been surnamed the ignoramus, knowest thou not, that great signs and wonders are to be done by thine hands? knowest thou not, that I have been sent unto thee by MORMON, the great apostle to the Nephites -- Mormon who was chief among the [lost] ten tribes of Israel?

6. Knowest thou not that this same apostle to the nephites conducted that pious people, who could not abide the wickedness of their brethren, to these happy shores in bark canoes, where after fighting with their brethren the Lamanites, a few hundred years, became wicked themselves, when God sent the small pox among them, which killed two thirds of them, and turned the rest into Indians?


This is clearly a parody of the angel Moroni dream story and the golden treasure, and not a satire of a God-and-Jesus First Vision story.

This is also in harmony whith the other reference TBM Eavesdropper claimed was about the visitation of God. In fact, it also is referring to the Moroni dream story and not a Jesus-and-God First Vision:

THE PALMYRA FREEMAN
Palmyra, NY, August, 1829.

"In the fall of 1827, a person by the name of Joseph Smith, of Manchester, Ontario county, reported that he had been visited in a dream by the spirit of the Almighty, and informed that in a certain hill in that town, was deposited this Golden Bible, containing an ancient record of a divine nature and origin. After having been thrice thus visited, as he states, he proceeded to the spot, and after having penetrating "mother earth" a short distance, the Bible was found, together with a huge pair of spectacles! He had directed, however, not to let any mortal being examine them, "under no less penalty" than instant death!

This is NOT evidence that Joseph Smith was telling people about seeing God and Jesus Christ but backs up the other evidence that Smith was only telling an angel dream story.

Smith didn't cook up the God-and-Jesus story until 1838 and then didn't first publish it until 1842.

Subject: TBM eavesdropper---please read.....
Date: Jan 27 20:01
Author: Randy J.

TBM Eavesdropper wrote:

>"More info:


>"The Rochester Advertiser and Telegraph of Aug. 31, 1829 (as cited by Nibley, Collected Works, Vol. 11, p. 82) reported that in 1827, Joseph Smith "had been visited in a dream by the spirit of the Almighty" and given information about a golden Bible."


TBME, it's amusing that you cited a FAIR article earlier which criticized the Tanners for playing fast and loose with historical quotes, but then you respond with a quote from Nibley wherein he does the same thing. At the time Nibley wrote this stuff 30-40 years ago, very few rank-and-file people had access to original documents like these old newspapers. Nibley knew that, so he uses snippets of quotes from them, hoping that none of his readers will see the unedited material in context. Fortunately, people like Dale Broadhurst have put the text of those old documents on the web, where we can see the whole thing and make our own determinations about them. For instance, the full, unedited paragraph from the newspaper Nibley quotes reads:

"GOLDEN BIBLE."
"The Palmyra Freeman says -- The greatest piece of superstition that has ever come within our knowledge, now occupies the attention of a few individuals of this quarter. It is generally known and spoken of as the "Golden Bible." Its proselytes give the following account of it: -- In the fall of 1827, a person by the name of Joseph Smith, of Manchester, Ontario county, reported that he had been visited in a dream by the spirit of the Almighty, and informed that in a certain hill in that town, was deposited this Golden Bible, containing an ancient record of a divine nature and origin."

Now TBME, this full quote was obviously referring to Joseph Smith's claim of having been visited by an angel "in the fall of 1827," who informed him of the "Golden Bible" buried in the hill. You see, TBME, by the fall of 1827, Smith's tale of the angel and the gold plates was becoming well-known in his region. In fact, the very first report I'm aware of which pinpointed a date for Smith's earliest account of his visit with the angel/gold Bible came from Willard Chase---but LDS apologists don't like to cite Chase, because Chase's account also told a lot about Smith's folk-magic and money-digging.

So, since this 1829 quote obviously deals with "Moroni's visit" of 1827, rather than the alleged "first vision" of 1820, the quote does not help to push back Smith's claims of a "first vision" before his known 1832 account. I hope that seeing this quote in context also helps you judge the honesty of Hugh Nibley.

>"Other similar examples cited by Nibley show that the Book of Mormon had the aura of the supernatural (including angelic visitations) even before its publication, rather than as an afterthought invented years later."


Any casual student of the subject knows that Smith claimed "angelic visitations" before the BOM's publication. But none of those accounts have Smith reporting a visit from God and Jesus circa 1820. If any did, LDS apologists would have been shouting them from the rooftops for decades. All those accounts deal with the report of the angel and golden Bible, just as the Rochester newspaper account above does.

>"Other critical publications of the era referred to claims by Joseph and others of angelic visions, and of personal conversations with Christ or with God Almighty."


Such "personal conversations" could be simple prayer. None of them speak of the actual visitation Smith wrote of in 1832 or 1842.

>"These stories were circulated long before modern anti-Mormon writers say that Joseph first came up with the idea. One example comes from an 1829 anti-Mormon satire by Abner Cole, who wrote a series of articles called "The Book of Pukei" for a Palmyra newspaper. The satire poked fun at many aspects of the Book of Mormon, including the first vision. The satire is evidence that Joseph's first vision story was known and talked about in 1829"

(Russell C. McGregor and Kerry A. Shirts, "Letters to an Anti-Mormon," FARMS
>Review of Books, Vol. 11, No. 1, 1999, p. 160).


(chuckle) TBME, perhaps I should inform you that Russell McGregor and Kerry Shirts used to dispense LDS apologetics on the alt.religion.mormon newsgroup. They both left the forum a couple of years ago, after repeatedly being refuted on practically every assertion of note which they made, by numerous knowledgeable researchers of Mormonism, including myself.

Russell's and Kerry's comments are no more credible than Nibley's above. Thanks to Dale Broadhurst, Cole's "Book of Pukei" is on the web at

http://www.lavazone2.com/dbroadhu/NY/wayn1830.htm#061230

I invite you to read it, and then tell us exactly where it mentions anything similar to Joseph Smith's 1832 or 1842 accounts of a visit from God or Jesus. As you read it, you will surely note Cole's comments about Smith's folk-magic and money-digging, his involvement with the bogus "conjuror" Luman Walters, and Cole's overall opinion that Smith's claims were contrived.

Perhaps you should also be informed that Cole wrote in his "Palmyra Reflector":

"It however appears quite certain that the prophet himself never made any
serious pretensions to religion until his late pretended revelation [referring to the golden Bible].....It is well known that Joe Smith never pretended to have any communion with angels, until a long period after the pretended finding of his book, and that the juggling of himself or father went no further than the pretended
faculty of seeing wonders in a 'peep-stone,' and the occasional interview with
the spirit, supposed to have the custody of hidden treasures: and it is also
equally well known that a vagabond fortune-teller by the name of Walters, who
then resided in the town of Sodus, and was once committed to the jail of this
town for juggling, was the constant companion and bosom friend of these money
digging imposters."

TBME, do you see anything in that quote that supports any 1820-era "first vision"?

>"It is true that we have little in writing from Joseph Smith before 1832, when he wrote his earliest account of the First Vision, and it is true that the main account we use of the 1820 First Vision was written in 1838."


Right. And the fact that those two accounts differ so greatly means that one or both of them are bogus-especially since the "first vision" allegedly occurred in 1820; Smith never wrote a word about it until 1832; and there is no contemporary documentation to support Smith's claims.

>"We must remember that the stories of heavenly visitations were both sacred, private, and controversial, so he had little incentive to publish them at the time."


This comment is contrary to Nibley's assertion that it was "anti-Mormon" writers who "censored" or "suppressed" reports of Smith's "first vision."

>"His first experience telling a minister about them in public led to immediate persecution, persecution which persisted throughout his life."


Unfortunately, there is no evidence outside of Smith's own ad hoc claims, that anyone "persecuted" him for telling of a visit from God and/or Jesus. In fact, contrary to Joseph's claim of being "persecuted," both Oliver Cowdery and William Smith reported that what first inspired Joseph to inquire about religious matters was the preaching of evangelist George Lane in 1823. William's account reads:

"In 1822 and 1823, the people in our neighborhood were very much stirred up with regard to religious matters by the preaching of a Mr. [George] Lane, an elder of the Methodist Church.....The consequences [of this growing religious
revival] was that my mother, my brothers Hyrum and Samuel, older than I, joined the Presbyterian Church. Joseph, then being about seventeen years of age [1823], had become seriously inclined, although not 'brought out', as the
phrase was, began to reflect and inquire, which of all these sects was right.....He continued in secret to call upon the Lord for a full manifestation of his will, the assurance that he was accepted of him, and that he might have an understanding of the path of obedience."

Note that not only did William relate that Joseph was inspired by Lane---rather than being "persecuted" by him---William dates the events which led to the alleged "first vision" in 1823, rather than 1820. That makes it further obvious that Joseph's 1842 "official" account of an 1820 "first vision" is a complete fabrication.

Note also William's statement that Rev. Lane's 1823 preaching spurred some members of the Smith family to join the Presbyterian church. This contradict's Joseph's 1842 claim that Jesus had told him in 1820 to join none of the existing churches. If the 1820 "first vision" were authentic, then surely Joseph would have prevented his relatives from joining any "false" church, and told them to wait for the "restored church" to come along.

The first documented event that could be misrepresented as "persecution" was Joseph's March 20, 1826 trial for "glass-looking." None of the evidence or testimony in that trial speak of any visits from God and/or Jesus, or from "Moroni" circa 1823. All of the evidence and testimony in that trial dealt with Joseph's claims of being able to "see" buried treasure by placing a stone in his hat, burying his face in the hat, and "conjuring" the location of the goods by looking in the stone.

>"However, we do have evidence that he had told others of this experience long before 1832, including ample evidence that his story of angelic and divine visitations were a major reason for the persecutions he faced before 1832. (See, for example, Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Circumstantial Confirmation of the First Vision through Reminiscences," Brigham Young University Studies, Vol. 9, Spring 1969, pp. 373-404uments about the chronology of the Joseph Smith History, please see McGregor and Shirts, pp. 154-171.)


More manipulating of the facts. There is OF COURSE evidence that Smith was persecuted "before 1832" for telling about "angelic and divine visitations." Chase's and Cole's treatment of Joseph were examples of that. However, NONE of those reports, and NONE of that "persecution" regarded Joseph's tales of a visit from God and/or Jesus.

ALL OF THEM were in the context of his folk-magic/money-digging, or his tales of the angel visiting him to tell him about the golden plates---and NONE of them originated before 1827, when Willard Chase and others recalled Joseph's initial claims. Before that time, all reports of Joseph's 1820's life and activities, outside of the later claims of his own family members, regarded Joseph's folk-magic/money-digging practices.

Even none of the various accounts of Joseph's March 20, 1826 "glass-looking" trial at Bainbridge NY---which was Joseph's first-ever public exposure, at age 20---have him mentioning a visit from God and/or Jesus, or having a "mission to restore the true gospel." Those accounts all describe Joseph as a two-bit folk-magician and money-digger who expressed regret for his occult practices, and promised the judge he would cease them.

TBM Eavesdropper, I hope you read this carefully and will consider it seriously.

Randy J.


Subject: When did the "1st Vision" reach its glory and become the 1st lesson?
Date: Jan 27 16:08
Author: Frustrating Investigator

For investigators it is the opening prelude to what is promised to be enlightenment. The orchestra swells, the drums roll, but that little drama is as good as it gets.

Subject: I'm wondering if it has to do with visitor's centers
Date: Jan 27 17:25
Author: Makurosu

The First Vision makes a nice visual aid at a visitor's center. Maybe that's the point at which it became a major selling point for Mormonism.

The lights dim... the music cues... a spotlight shines from above down on the mannequin of the boy, Joseph Smith. "I saw a pillar of light..."

Reading it on paper, it sounds like hokey cult crap, but it makes a nice theatrical presentation.


Subject: I Still Want Eavesdropper To Take My Challenge . . .
Date: Jan 27 19:06
Author: SL Cabbie

Repeat three times, "Joseph Smith propositioned the wives of other men to test their faithfulness."

And keep a straight face while he's doing it.

It also doesn't pass the smell test that Joseph Smith and the Mormons were persecuted for their religious beliefs in a country where Maryland was founded as a refuge for Catholics, Pennsylvania for Quakers, and Rhode Island for the followers of Roger Williams, and there were a whole bunch of smaller sects who were pretty much left alone such as the Shakers . . . Religious freedom was written into the Bill of Rights, for crying out loud . . .

Smith and his inner circle were scam artists, plain and simple; that's why Kirtland collapsed and their own followers turned on them and forced them to flee to Missouri where they encountered the powderkeg of the slavery issue. They tried to sit on the fence and persisted in claiming divine sanction for their actions which provoked the wrath of the Missourians . . .

Here's another challenge for you, too. Try to find another religous group who was persecuted in this country before the Bahgwan's group up in Antelope, Oregon. Those folks tried biological warfare in the form of contaminating some restaurants with the hope of sickening people the day before a local election . . . . We know what happened at Waco . . .

There is one I know about. Native Americans were violently suppressed for the Ghost Dance which they believed would enable them to overthrow the white man . . .

Subject: FAIR did a great job documenting Smith's proposals to other men's wives
Date: Jan 27 19:16
Author: Deconstructor

Actually, FAIR has documented Joseph Smith proposing and marrying other men's wives. It just goes to show how far away FAIR has moved away from the Bretheren and the part line. Church leaders still paint Smith as a faithful monogomist, yet FAIR has documented and explained his womanizing.

This is a great paper to show to women in the church because it's pro-Mormon all the way but still very disturbing to women. They recognize much better than FAIR apologists that Joseph Smith's womanizing cannot be defended.

http://www.fairlds.org/pubs/polyandry.pdf

Compare their list of married women that Smith proposed to with my list:

http://www.i4m.com/think/history/Joseph_Smth_mens_wives.htm

Subject: Sheesh, Decon, This is Funnier Than Letterman . . .
Date: Jan 27 21:59
Author: SL Cabbie

No one can accuse you of not bending over backwards to be nice to FAIR saying they did a great job of documenting Smith's propositions to other men's wives. Course I notice that they didn't mention William Law's wife . . . wonder why that was? ;-)

Short interval while I go flush out the old bullchip filter and then I'll share the laughs. Is that why you're nice to FAIR, because they provide such great material?

Okay, had to use the stainless steel scrubpad on some of that stuff. Ya gotta hand it to 'em, they address the question that's on everyone's mind, was Joseph boinkin' the gals or just saving their souls for the hereafter . . .

Indeed, one important aspect of plural marriage was to bring forth and raise up those noble spirits, reserved for this dispensation, unto Christ. This was not simply a mechanism for randomly replicating humans. It was to be done via select parentage that could place those spirits in an environment that would develop their divine potential. In this respect barriers to marriage were removed for Joseph.

[Joseph] believed he had been given powers that transcended civil law. Claiming sole responsibility for binding and unbinding marriages on earth and in heaven, he did not consider it necessary to obtain civil marriage licenses or divorce decrees. When ever he deemed it appropriate he could release a woman from her earthly marriage and seal her to himself with no stigma of adultery. (footnoted)

If there was an intimate dimension in every one of these particular marriages, it is ultimately a matter of no consequence as he "could not commit adultery with wives who belonged to him."


Then they wiggle and say it didn't matter if he did consummate the marriages . . .

And then there's old Heber C.'s demonstration of faith:

He took his wife, Vilate, to Joseph and presented her. Joseph wept at their act of faith, devotion, and obedience.

Embarassing for me to admit I'm related to such a gullible sort, even if it is only by adoption . . .

Of course FAIR maintains it was just like God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, just a test . . .

They should keep the communications channels open with FARMS, though. I understand Nibley's latest stance is they're not sure Abraham ever existed . . .

SLC
Who, When onstage with Deconstructor
Knows the futility of trying to top the act,
And is content follow Bop Hope's advice to go for the laugh.

Subject: This begs the question, "Why did JS have to introduce the 1st vision story as it is told today?"
Date: Jan 27 18:59
Author: Woody Woodruff

Were there some underlying doctrinal principles believed in the 1830's, which stated in order for Y and Z to be true event X had to have occurred? For instance, the saying that "a man must be called of god." Is this why JS invented the 1st vision story, to back up his other claims? Or were there indeed concerns by a majority of the people about god's one true church? Other reasons? What say ye?

Subject: Re: This begs the question, "Why did JS have to introduce the 1st vision story as it is told today?"
Date: Jan 27 20:36
Author: Randy J.

>Were there some underlying doctrinal principles believed in the 1830's, which stated in order for Y and Z to be true event X had to have occurred? For instance, the saying that "a man must be called of god." Is this why JS invented the 1st vision story, to back up his other claims? Or were there indeed concerns by a majority of the people about god's one true church? Other reasons? What say ye?


IMO, Joseph simply concocted his first "first vision" story in 1832 to help proof-text his "authority." As several LDS researchers like LaMarr Peterson and Grant Palmer have noted, Joseph invented his tales of receiving the "Melchizedek Priesthood" from Peter, James, and John some time after the event allegedly occurred. So his 1832 "first vision" story appeared at about the same time as his PJ&J story.

Later, he concocted tales of visitations from Elijah and other patriarchs. I believe that what happened was, after Joseph found that some people accepted his tales of Moroni and the golden plates, he began concocting bigger and bigger "visions" to proof-text his burgeoning claims.

Another reason was that lots of people in Joseph's worldview were claiming to have visits from God and/or Jesus, like Asa Wild and Norris Stearns. Stearns' 1815 "vision" read:

"I saw two spirits, which I knew at the first sight. But if I had the tongue
of an Angel I could not describe their glory, for they brought the joys of
heaven with them. One was God, my Maker, almost in bodily shape like a man.
His face was, as it were a flame of Fire, and his body, as it had been a Pillar
and a cloud. In looking steadfastly to discern features, I could see none, but
a small glimpse would appear in some other place. Below him stood Jesus Christ
my Redeemer, in perfect shape like a man---His face was not ablaze, but had the
countenance of fire, being bright and shining. His Father's will appeared to
be his! All was condescension, peace, and love."

Since Joseph was billing his fledgling organization as the "restored church of Jesus Christ," he couldn't very well let all those other visionaries have personal interviews with God and Jesus, and not himself. He needed to concoct his own visit, and it had to be bigger and better than everybody else's.

Subject: BYU Professor and noted author Milton Backman makes some important points in his book "Joseph Smith's First Vision"......
Date: Jan 27 23:05
Author: O-TownDrone

and essentially confirms what Decon is saying here. Backman indicates that the first vision account was not used in the early missionary effort. The emphasis was on the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. He also confirms that the first vision account was not widely known among the early church members.

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